Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sticks and Stones, Part 2

Six months after I graduated from nursing school, I got engaged to be married.  I got married 4 months later. During the 1st year of marriage, I gained about 10 pounds, but I was still pleased with how I looked and felt.  There is just something about being happily married that makes you a little complacent with your diet. The year after that, I was pregnant with my 1st child.  I gained 38 pounds with my pregnancy. I did the Weight Watchers plan when my daughter was 6 months old and lost the last 15 pounds I had left in just few months.

Now I know that all of this seems like minor weight issues of a young adult women.  Little did I know it was about to get much worse. I have had asthma since I was 11 years old.  When I was 25 years old, I had a severe asthma attack and had to go on steroids. It took 3 years for me to get off of them.  I had to be hospitalized for my asthma during that time and we struggled with multiple medications and doctors visits to keep my asthma under control.  I couldn’t breathe very well so I couldn’t exercise very much, especially if the weather was cold, wet or the pollen counts were high. My weight exploded no matter what I did.  I was so hungry all the time. I never felt like I was full. My weight went up to 220 pounds. It was the heaviest I had ever been. My face was really puffy. I had a “moon face” from the steroids.  My weight stayed up there for a few years. I tried several diets during this time. Susan Powter was really popular so I did her diet. She was the queen of the low fat fad. She believed that you could lose weight if you kept your intake of fat really low, like 10%.  She also was a huge advocate of eating things that weren’t processed. She said before you ate something, you should ask “Did it grow that way?”. I started eating more produce as a result of that question. However, just because something is low fat, doesn’t make it healthy.  Many low fat items are loaded with sugar. I recall may mornings I would have a “whole wheat” bagel and fat free cream cheese for breakfast, or steel cut oats with honey and cut fruit. Both of those were considered healthy choices but are both loaded with sugar and carbs. I never looked at the sugar, carbs or really even the  total calories of the things I ate. I calculated the percentage of fat and that is how I decided if it was ok for me to eat. I did lose some weight on this plan, but found it was not maintainable nor was it consistent. The low fat foods frequently lacked taste so there was no incentive to make them a part of your daily life, with the exception of fruits and vegetables.  Low fat crackers, breads, etc taste like cardboard. I wanted to enjoy the things I ate.

To complicate matters even more, I had a second child during this time too.  During my pregnancy, I had to spend 6 weeks on bedrest for preterm labor. Thankfully I only gained 13 pounds during my 2nd pregnancy and left the hospital a few pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight.  Some doctors will tell you that breastfeeding is a good way to lose weight since it burns additional calories to produce breastmilk. I can tell you that that is a lie. I have breastfed all 3 of my children and I cannot lose weight while I am breastfeeding. Then, it was much harder to get to the gym and  make healthy meals with 2 young children at home. My 2nd child was a demanding baby. He had colic as an infant, then developed severe separation anxiety when he got a little older. I couldn’t leave him with anyone, sometimes not even with my husband, or he would just scream until I got back. Weight loss was not my major focus.  I wasn’t gaining weight at this point though. I was maintaining my weight, so I can’t beat myself up too much.

To be continued...

Sticks and Stones, Part 1 (reposted)

The first time I posted this, it scrolled it across the screen and cut everything off and I didn't  notice it. I deleted that  post and I am reposting it now.  Sorry about that.

“Sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me”.  When I was growing up, that is what we were taught to tell a bully when they called us names that were intended to belittle us.  As a young adult in my mid 20, weighing over 200 pounds, I realized that the phrase should have been “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will hurt forever”.  
When my step dad came into my life, I was 10 years old and built like a toothpick.  Over the next few years, puberty entered my life and I got my curves like I was supposed to.  My step dad made fun of me for it. He called me “Fatty Patty” and would make rude comments about gaining weight.  I thought I was so overweight in high school. Looking back at photos, I wish I would have realized I was at a healthy weight. I have never been the supermodel thin girl that some of my friends were though.  All I needed to do was develop good eating and exercise habits to make sure I stayed that way. I did OK all through my junior year in high school until my senior year. I started working a part time job and would stop and get fast food  on my way home from work. My mom wasn’t the best cook and I never had time to eat at home. We also never ate fast food when I was growing up. My single mom could not afford it so it was a luxury for me. I started my senior year at 135 and ended it at 175.  This was the beginning of my weight problem, the beginning of my yo-yo dieting. This was going to be a long road of body hating and body shaming.

After high school, I went to nursing school.  Nursing school was one of the most stressful things I have ever done in my life, maybe up until this past year, but you will learn more about that later.  Almost everyone gains weight their 1st year of college. I didn’t have the added issue of moving away from home, living on dorm food and all of that. I lived at home all through college.  My second semester of college, I went on my first serious diet. I had to get a PE credit and I had always loved gymnastics, so I took a gymnastics glass for 1 credit. My weight was somewhere between 180-190 at this point at age 18.  I was out of shape too. This wonderful gymnastics instructor took a special interest in me and spoke to me after class one week into class about my weight. She offered to help me with a weight loss plan and I accepted. I started on the Scarsdale Medical Diet.  This diet was popular in the late 1970s and the 1980’s. It was very similar to the current low carb diets that are popular now. The diet gave you a specific meal plan to follow for a few weeks then you were supposed to eat a more regular diet for 2 weeks. It was more involved than that, but it was a long time ago so I don’t remember the details.   My weight fluctuated some during nursing school due to stress but by the time I graduated, I was down to 145. I was almost 21 years old. It was a big struggle and I fought some pretty big demons right after I graduated. When I was working night shifts at the hospital, it was really easy for old eating habits to creep back in. I started to get very obsessive about tracking calories and about what  I ate. My roommate commented once that she never saw me eat. I blew it off, figuring it was just because I worked nights so we were never awake at the same time. I realized though that she was right. I was hardly eating anything and I was taking a lot of vitamins and telling myself that would be enough. I got some counseling and stopped the behavior before I became anorexic. Looking back, that really scares me.  I have seen myself in both extremes - the overeating and the under eating. Neither one are pretty.

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

I forgot... add to the post below that I was weighed on Sunday and I have lost 8 pounds since being in the hospital.  That weight loss put my at my weight loss goal.  Now I am not counting on this being a 100% accurate weight, neither am I counting on it staying there.  I say that because my weight fluctuates a lot in the hospital and because they weighed me by weighing my in my wheelchair, then weighing my chair by itself.  They had  a hard time getting my chair to stay on the scale by itself so he was having to hold it there while trying to touch it as little as possible.  My chair weighs 400 pounds.  That is 100 pounds more than I thought it did.  That sucker is HEAVY!!  I was excited anyway.  I'm trying really hard not to blow it and screw up for the next week that I am here.  I'm ready to be on maintenance.  I figure this is good practice for how I need to eat the rest of my life so that is what I have been doing, trying to eat like I am in maintenance.

First week of Rehab

I haven't posted since I have been in rehab, so I figured I should give everyone an update, if anyone is reading this.  Day one of rehab is just evaluations.  I was hoping I would get my same physical therapist that I had my 1st 2 admissions, but I saw someone from a different floor for my evaluation.  She wasn't going to be my therapist and didn't  know who I would have.  My OT wasn't the same either.  I had a different one in March/April and in July.  I had worked a few times with the  one I got though and  I like her.  My PT, Kelsey, was my second choice if I couldn't get Victoria back.  I know, you probably don't care, but I might want to remember  this later.

Evaluations,Thursday November 29th- I can sit on the side of the bed now but I'm still  a little unsteady.  I can't move my legs but I can wiggle my toes just a tiny bit.  If you blink, you will miss it.  My arms are weak.  I can lift them up to my head but not all the way over my head.  I can transfer from the bed to the chair with the transfer board but it takes a lot of effort and  leaves me exhausted.  PT tried to get me to stand but she had to pull me up most of the way and hold me up the entire 10 seconds so I don't really think that counted much.  She said she could feel a little bit of muscle activation when I did that though, so the potential  is there.

Each day I have gotten a little bit stronger, gotten a little bit of movement back here and there.  I have been sore and tired.  I felt like I have been working out with heavy weights for hours on end rather than just 1# weights and trying to move my own legs.  On Monday, I started pool therapy.  In the pool, it is so much easier to move around and walk. The 1st day in the pool 2 days ago, I walked about 6 feet and I had to rest half way there.  Today, I did 2 laps of 6 feet in the pool before I had to rest.  Yesterday, I walked 8 feet on land with a walker.  My core strength is almost back to normal.  I can tell I still have a little bit of work to do because my abs and obliques are sore after therapy.  All of this therapy has really kicked up my muscle spasms.  At first, the spasms would help activate my muscle movement.  Now that I can get the muscles activated myself, the spasms just make my muscles more fatigued.  Tomorrow, my doctor is going to make adjustments to my baclofen pump to help those spasms.  It is a fine balancing act.  Too much baclofen and my legs get weak, not enough and I have muscle spasms.  For the most part, my dose is spot on and I only have to have it tweaked occasionally.  It was one of the best things I had done.

I am scheduled to go home on December 12th.  I am confident I will  be ready to go home.  I may not be walking very much, but enough that I can stand at the kitchen stove to cook and stand up to get the higher things I need in the kitchen, especially since I will be home alone during the day.  I am a little bit nervous about that part.  I have never been home alone when I first come home from the hospital.  I have always had someone at home to help me.  I am sure that  I will be fine.  I usually didn't  need the help but it was nice to know that Andrew was there if I needed him.

I'll be posting the next part of my weight loss journey soon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Approved for rehab

I finally got approved for rehab yesterday.  So now that we have insurance on board, the rehab hospital didn't have any beds.  I was so frustrated.  When you are inpatient in the regular hospital, you get 30 minutes of PT every other day.  When I'm in the ICU, that is about all I can tolerate.  Now that I am on  the floor, I need so much more.  When I get to rehab, I'll get 3 hours a day, more if I go to the pool.  I need all of that if I am going to get back to walking.  They told me they should have a bed for me this morning.

I am doing better staying on my diet this time.  It is impossible to stay 100% on a ketogenic diet in the hospital.  I can't get the hospital to send me enough vegetables, and the proper vegetables to meet that requirement.  Plus, so much of their menu is centered about pasta and bread.  I'm trying not to have bread type products more than once a day.  I will be excited if I can maintain through this hospitalization.  When I get home, I am hoping that I have not gained any weight, then I can get back on track.  I had 8 pounds to lose when I entered the hospital last week and I am determined not to let this hospitalization set me back too far.  My goal was to start transitioning into maintenance after January 1st and I still want to do that if at all possible. Being so close to maintenance, this will actually give me a good chance to test the waters.  I'm much more ready for the challenge of that than I was during the summer.  I just stress ate a lot during my summer hospitalization and ended up gaining weight.  Of coarse the fact that I haven't gotten out of bed in 9 days doesn't help my weight at all.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Devotional from a prophet of God

Here is a little video clip about the devotional in San Antonio we attended.  I didn't know there was a Q&A with the prophet and some youth.  That would have been so cool to attend.  Jeremy would have asked him "Where is the sword of Laban?".  There was a Q&A with the stake president and  our youth a few months ago and that is what Jeremy asked the stake president.  He answered by quoting a scripture in the Book of Mormon that simply says "I know not".  I can't remember the reference but I will ask Jeremy later and come back and add it.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

This is beginning to be a habit

I know it seems like I only post when I am in the hospital or when something is wrong, but that is about the only time  when my life slows down long enough for me to write.  I do want to find more time to write because I want to write my life store but I don't want to post that entire thing on my blog.  There are so many people wanting updates though that I thought I needed to start updating again.  I also have been writing out my weight loss story and I do plan on posting that.  I'm going to post that in sections because it is 6 pages long in Google Docs.

So, on Sunday, we had an amazing opportunity.  President Russell M. Nelson came to San Antonio to speak at the Alamodome.  We left the house at 2pm and  got there and into our seats by about 3:45.  He wasn't speaking until 6, so there was a lot of waiting around to do.  There was a lot of people there.  One of the speakers said there were over 23,500 people there.  Elder and  Sister Bednar spoke.  Sis. Bednar's talk was about 5 things she learned living in Texas.  They lived in Texas for a while before Elder Bednar became president of BYU-I.  Several of their grandchildren were born in Austin around the same time I was having my children. Bro Ochoa of the 70 and his wife spoke.  Then Sis. Nelson spoke about what life has been like since her husband's call to be prophet and the change she has seen in him.  The President Nelson spoke.  His talk was a lot about the gathering of Israel both here and in the afterlife. 

So while we were there, my central nervous system decided to go haywire again.  When the prophet came in, I could stand.  I listened to all the speakers and waited until the general authorities were escorted out of the Alamodome.  I went to stand up when the prophet was exiting the stage and my right leg was paralyzed.  Since it was only the 1 leg, we thought it was going to be a normal MS flare and not an episode of ascending paralysis.  Monday morning when I woke up, my left leg was also paralyzed.  Now we were facing something new.  I have never experienced the paralysis onset like this before.  We weren't sure if this was an MS flare with bilateral paralysis or the start of another episode of ascending paralysis.  I didn't have any weakness anywhere else.  Stan stayed at home for an hour to see if I was going to get any weakness but decided to head into work around 9am.  I emailed Dr. Westgate to find out if she  wanted me to go to the hospital or go in to see her.  She emailed me back around 11am with instructions to go to the hospital.  I had just decided that I needed to go there anyway because my arms and  torso had started to feel weaker.

We got to the ER and they took me back to the room right away.  The ER doctor came in pretty fast too.  He had already looked over my history and my records from my previous hospital admissions.  It was already decided that I was going to be admitted.  I just had to wait on the attending doctor to come see me and for a bed to be assigned.  It took about 3 hours before I got up to a room.  By that point, I could only shrug my shoulders a tiny bit.  We were really surprised that they admitted me to a regular room this time and not the ICU like the last 2 times.  I got to my room around 6pm, got my dinner ordered.  Stan had to feed me.  After the boys visited and went home, I tried to go to sleep, only to wake up about 15 minutes later choking on my secretions.  I couldn't swallow my own saliva and I was having trouble breathing.  The ICU manager came up to my room and stayed  with me until the doctor could come evaluate me and they could get me transferred to the ICU.  The ICU doctor saw me as soon as I got to the unit and decided I was didn't need to be intubated yet and they wanted to wait to see if I could turn things around with the 1st dose of IVIG since it was currently infusion.  They did some breathing tests frequently over the next several hours.  I stayed borderline until partway through the next day.  I was finally out of the woods breathing wise by early afternoon.  I still required oxygen though.  I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything except for 1-2 ice chips per hour because I couldn't swallow without choking.  That lasted until the next afternoon when   I was allowed to start with soft food and slowly advance my diet.  I finished my IVIG on Thanksgiving early in the am (like 4am.)  By the time the doctors rolled around at 9ish, I was able to lift my arms off the bed a little bit, move my hands, move my torso some and wiggle my toes just a tiny bit.

I've been out of the ICU for 3 days now.  I can raise my hands over my head well enough that I can braid my hair.  I can lift my torso off the bed.  I can turn myself with help.  I still have very little movement below my waist except that tiny twitches I have in my feet and my upper body is very weak.  I can't open my milk cartons, or some of the bottles, like soda bottles, but I am getting stronger every day.

The plan is for me to be transferred to the rehab hospital as soon as insurance approved the referral.  I'm going to call on Monday and find out when they estimate an answer.  I know I only have 60 days of inpatient rehab per year and I have used about 34 maybe, so I still have 26 days, almost 4 weeks worth.  I shouldn't need more than 2, maybe 3 weeks.  I usually bounce back really fast from these once I start going through PT/OT, especially

When the neurologist saw me in the ICU (not my normal one, but the one who saw me the last time I was here), he did make a few recommendations for me.  He thinks I should go see a neurologist at one of the teaching hospitals in Houston or Dallas once I am able to travel.  Dr. Westgate, my regular neurologist, has mentioned this once already to me, so she has been thinking this way too.  She hesitated though because the one I saw in Houston prior to seeing her said that my symptoms were being caused by stress.  I have no doubt that stress makes my symptoms worse, but they are by no means the sole cause of them.